Soft Words Butter No Parsnips was one of my grandfathers favourite sayings and it seemed particularly fitting that I should give his book this title. John Iliffe Poole was always being fobbed off with kind words and pats on the back during his long and dignified fight with the pension authorities, but soft words alone did not allow him to provide food for his wife and young family.
We had a lot of seemingly obscure little sayings in our house some platitudinous, many irreverent, some downright ridiculous - that probably went back generations. I expect youve heard a lot of them and use them on your children. As a small child I tried to make sense of my grandmothers, a boy picks his wife by er ayd and er eels, or its a mans place to arsk and a ladys to refoos, or grandads, its no skin off my nose or dont be a gowk.
So, I then had the problem of integrating these sayings, the fabric of our family, into the fabric of the book. I did it like this .
Sayings in the book
All wind and water like the barbers cat Cocking a snook As happy as a sand boy Going the whole hog More kicks than halfpence Too close for comfort Taking the rough with the smooth Fighting tooth and nail By the skin of your teeth Getting the wrong end of the stick As near as dammit Like an owl in an ivy bush All at sixes and sevens Dont know your arse from your elbow Dinna fash yoursel Worse things happen at sea All quiet on the Western Front Handsome is as handsome does As nice as nine-pence Crying over spilled milk As pleased as Punch Faint heart neer won fair lady Throwing in the towel Going cap in hand As cold as charity Flogging a dead horse Living from hand to mouth Mutton dressed up as lamb Time and tide wait for no man Money doesnt grow on trees Getting your dander up Pulling your horns in Up a gum tree Wiping the slate clean Every Tom Dick and Harry Like a dose of salts Half a loaf is better than no bread at all Cutting off your nose to spite your face Keeping your pecker up Less said, soonest mended The back of beyond A fate worse than death A chip off the old block Putting the cart before the horse A nods as good as a wink to a blind man One good turn deserves another As bright as a button Putting two and two together To be tickled pink Like a blue-arsed fly The life of Riley There are plenty more fish in the sea Theres no rest for the wicked Never in a month of Sundays Like a dog with two tails Where theres a will theres a way Talking the hind leg off a donkey All the world and his wife Til the cows come home A means to an end A cats lick and a promise When needs must the devil drives The gift of the gab Knocked into a cocked hat Hook, line and sinker On a wing and a prayer The more I thought about it, the more sayings I remembered, so the following are ones that didnt make it into the book, but may be still worth quoting! A blessing in disguise A fair crack of the whip A flash in the pan A flea in your ear A means to an end A turn up for the books Acting the giddy goat All Greek to me All is not lost All of a dither All over the shop All the tea in China As blind as a bat As bold as brass As clear as a bell As plain as a pikestaff As sound as a bell As sure as eggs are eggs Back to square one Banging your head against a brick wall Batten down the hatches Beating about the bush Being a dab hand Bending over backwards Best bib and tucker Better safe than sorry Biding ones time Biting off more than you can chew Blow high, blow low Bobs your uncle Boo to a goose Bow and scrape Buck up your ideas Bundle of nerves Burying your head in the sand Calling a spade a spade Cant see the wood for the trees Chop and change Credit where credits due Cutting the mustard Darken ones door Dont count your chickens Dont give up the ghost Dont know you from Adam Dont rock the boat Down but not out Easy come, easy go Eating out of your hand Eating your heart out Every trick in the book Everything but the kitchen sink Falling by the wayside Falling on deaf ears Feather in your cap Fits and starts For donkeys years Get out of bed on the wrong side Get on like a house on fire Get the bit between your teeth Going hammer and tongs at it Going like the clappers Grin and bear it Having a good innings Having an axe to grind High and dry His barks worse than his bite Hitting the nail on the head Hook, line and sinker If you cant beat them, join them In cahoots In high dudgeon It takes a sprat to catch a mackerel It takes all sorts to make the world Itll all come out in the wash Its all grist to the mill Its as broad as its long Its no skin off my nose Jumping on the bandwagon Keeping open houseKnee-high to a grasshopper Like a bear with a sore head Like a drowned rat Like a red rag to a bull Like nobodys business Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves Look lively! Making ends meet Moaning Minnie More haste, less speed Neither here nor there No holds barred Off the beaten track On tenterhooks On the straight and narrow Part and parcel Passing the buck Pay through the nose Penny wise, pound foolish Playing your cards right Poor as a church mouse Put that in your pipe and smoke it Putting the fear of God in you Putting the kibosh on Putting the mockers on Rubbing salt into the wound Salt of the earth Something the cat brought in Speak as you find Spending money hand over fist Standing on ceremony Stinking to high heaven Straight as a die Taking it on the chin Taking it with a pinch of salt That old chestnut That takes the biscuit Thats the cats whiskers The apple of my eye The blind leading the blind The end of your tether The pot calling the kettle black The whole shooting match Theres no accounting for taste Through thick and thin Tied to your apron strings 'Tis an ill wind that blows nobody any good Too big for your boots Too clever by half Too many cooks spoil the broth Too many irons in the fire Turning over a new leaf Uncle Tom Cobley and all Up a gum tree Up with the lark Upsetting the apple cart Waste not, want not Watching you like a hawk Water off a ducks back Water under the bridge Why have a dog and bark yourself? With your tail between your legs Would give my right arm Wreck of the Hesperus Your bread and butter Your eyes are bigger than your belly Your hearts in the right place You havent got two pennies to rub together Youve made your bed now youve got to lie in it